Brachiopod from the Eyam Limestone Formation of the Dinantian age 327-340 million years age

Fossil Hunting

Sporting my new geology hammer and chisel I’ve gotten for Christmas from Sam, its time to field test them and go fossil hunting in Derbyshire.  Now I’m not expecting Jurassic Park or to find the intact remains of a T-Rex or for dog to dig up the bones of a Pachycephalosaurus (easy for you to say) but it would be nice to see the ancestors. Even if they are only spineless simple sea creatures. No change there then.

The world's most inept fossil hunter.
The world’s most inept fossil hunter. Slightly advanced sea creature.

Getting dressed up for the weather, all the gear-no idea, I look like the shittest version of Indiana Jones you’ve ever seen.  In fact I don’t look anything like him, I look more like a serial killer with a pointy hammer, ready to deliver the coup-de-grace to anyone unlucky enough to stumble across my path.  At this point I should probably mention that we’re in an abandoned quarry, so I could probably get away with it….

Brachiopods, bivalves, crinoids and choral markings at Hall Dale Quarry near Matlock. Click for a much larger picture to see the "evidence."
Brachiopods, bivalves, crinoids and choral markings at Hall Dale Quarry near Matlock. Click for a larger picture to see the “evidence.”

Do you know what we found fossil hunting?  Nowt, nil, zilch, bugger all.  Too much bleeding snow to see anything.  No signs of life, this is Derbyshire after all.  Probably didn’t help when Sam lost the new chisel down some rocks and boulders, trying to weave our hands through gaps in the boulders and rocks like Inspector Gadget trying to retrieve it only for it to go the way of the dinosaurs. Instead, we had to batter away at some rocks with the geologist’s pick. Had a few of what we thought were tantalising glimpses of life now and again.  Had more false positives than the Allan Hills 84001 meteorite (ALH84001).  Quite apt considering our current snowy conditions and that it was found this day 20 years ago in Antarctica.

Brachiopod from the Eyam Limestone Formation of the Dinantian age 327-340 million years age
Brachiopod from the Eyam Limestone Formation of the Dinantian age 327-340 million years ago.  This was from our previous fossil hunting visit in September.

Looks like we’ve banging our heads for nothing during this fossil hunting expedition, which is a bit like what Pachycephalosaurus used to.  Headbangers the lot of ’em. The nearest thing we’ve seen in dinosaur evidence is the remains of the Turkey we ate on Christmas Day.  The way this is going, I’ll end up like Otzi the Iceman by the murderous looks Sam is giving me, her feet are freezing, I’m in serious in danger of being overkilled with the damage she’s intent on dishing out on me.  Even dog is giving the evils.

Hall Dale Quarry near Matlock in Derbyshire. Even dog was getting fed up of the cold.
Hall Dale Quarry near Matlock in Derbyshire. Even dog was getting fed up of the cold.

Still, the day isn’t entirely without success, we do have some very small finds, it really isn’t the weather for it.  We’ve been bashing at the dark grey carboniferous limestone rocks in Hall Dale quarry near Matlock in Derbyshire.  These blocks of rocks from the Eyam Limestone Formation of the Dinantian age 327-340 million years ago (Lower Carboniferous) have the most common types of fossils to be found including bivalves, brachiopods, corals and crinoids.

You can find out more about fossil hunting in Derbyshire and the UK here.

You cand out more on Pachycephalosaurus and other dinosaurs by taking this fantastic course here.

Nick Cook

Amateur astronomer, space, history, nerd, extreme dog walker, cat slave, doorstep daytripper, severe tinnitus sufferer. 13.7 billion years in the making - not that much better for it. Knows more about swords than is probably healthy for a man.

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